Paul George Says Clippers 'Definitely Got Closer' During NBA Protest

Blake SchusterAnalyst IIAugust 29, 2020

Los Angeles Clippers players huddle before the first half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs, Friday, Nov. 29, 2019, in San Antonio. San Antonio won 107-97. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)
Darren Abate/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers were the only two teams to vote in favor of ending the season when a work stoppage over systemic racism and police brutality forced the NBA to postpone the playoffs earlier this week.

In the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the Clippers were simply spent. Three days off from basketball to discuss race in America and search for solutions helped rejuvenate them. L.A. guard Paul George told reporters Saturday there's no doubt he and his teammates become a closer group since they last played. 

"I mean, this is a roller coaster," George said. "It's a roller coaster being in here, so all of us are riding this wave together, and it's an experience we'll all take away from it. But we definitely got closer."

The NBA's work stoppage began with the Milwaukee Bucks refusing to play Game 5 against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday, instead remaining in the locker room to get the lieutenant governor and attorney general of Wisconsin on the phone, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski

Kenosha is just 40 miles south of Milwaukee and the case of Blake—a 29-year-old Black man who was shot in the back seven times by officer Rusten Sheskey on Sunday—weighed on the Bucks more than basketball game. Blake is expected to survive, though he's currently paralyzed from the waist down.

Once the Bucks made their stand, teams inside the NBA bubble indicated they would follow suit, leading the league to postpone all games until Saturday. The Clippers initially didn't want to play at all anymore. 

George admitted he was struggling with his mental health while inside the the NBA bubble before the protests began. The time away from basketball—as well as working with a team psychiatrist, family, friends and teammates—seemed to help refocus things.

The guard said the club had a number of "uncomfortable conversations" and laid everything out on the table when it came to viewpoints and interests. 

Per Clippers head coach Doc Rivers:

"I think every team is closer because of the last 48 hours, but I think what really is closer is just the players in general as a group... when you see guys in the room that are talking that probably don't know each other... I mean, there's some smart young players in this league. I can tell you that. I saw a player do a Power Point in front of the other players, and it was a lot of impressive stuff going on."

Los Angeles will resume its first-round series against the Dallas Mavericks with Game 6 slated for Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. The Clippers lead the series 3-2.